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Spotlight: Folklorico Christmas recital

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Photo Courtesy of Roswell Folklorico The colorful dances of Mexico ring in the Christmas season at Roswell Folklorico's free Holiday extravaganza.

Roswell Folklorico invites the public to its Mexican holiday extravaganza

By Christina Stock

Vision editor

Frank Herrera’s Folklorico students will perform their annual free Christmas recital at the Roswell Adult Center, 807 N. Missouri Ave., Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.

This year, the recital’s theme is Navidad En México (Christmas in Mexico). According to Herrera, there will be a variation of dances from Mexico, including an Azteca Dance and a dance from a state on Mexico’s Pacific coast. “It’s not brand-new, but we haven’t done it for several years,” Herrera said. “We are going to do dances from the state of Guerrero. The costumes are real simple but nice; it’s a lot of footwork — they do a lot with bandanas and wrist movement.

“We’ll have dances from Jalisco, Chiapas, which we didn’t do last year for our Christmas show.

“Yucatan, Chihuahua — it is a crowd favorite with the music, the excitement and accordion. But not Veracruz this year. I don’t have the luxury of a vocalist or intermission. Perhaps next year we do Veracruz first so they have time with the complicated costume. I want to do the Aztec because last year we didn’t do it for this show.”

According to Herrera, there will be 40 to 45 dancers performing.

“I have all my new ones dancing,” Herrera said. “I have 10 who started this year, ages 4 to 14/15. In fact, we did have a performance last Saturday at Avamere (Assisted Living Facility), that’s the old Brookdale. All the new ones danced. They were so excited and the parents were excited, too. This is just a dress rehearsal — I always do that. I do one of the care centers so that they have that opportunity to get all bugs, any butterflies out.”

Herrera said that the seating for the Christmas show will be different than the one last year. The public will be seated in a semi-circle so everybody can get a good view of the dancers.

While donations will be gladly accepted, the concert is free of charge. “What I do at Christmas is our give-back to the community for their support throughout the year; coming to our shows and helping us,” he said.

Performances at the retirement homes are free as well.

After the show, there will be a surprise or two, fitting to the season. While looking forward to the show, Herrera is already planning his classes and recital next year, which will be a big anniversary for him.

“I’ll be teaching Folklorico next year 50 years,” he said. “For the last 40 years, I’ve been looking for a certain piece of music. My teacher had it on the album. I know two names for the piece, I even knew the authors who wrote it and I could not find it. I finally gave up.”

Then, earlier this year, he needed to order something and found it on eBay, of all places.

“That one song is a beautiful polka that is perfect for kids. That is going to be performed next year. I first thought I can have it for this year, but no, I am going to save it and I want to spend the whole year working on it, perfecting it,” Herrera said. “Then there is another region that I am bringing back next year. The costume for it is like a silk brocade. I have a lady looking for it now. The lady originally made it for me 20 years ago. I ran into her and she said she would be happy to make it for me again, but needed more time. She is looking for the material in Mexico when she goes there.”

With Christmas just around the corner, Herrera shared some of the memories of his childhood.

“We had a lot of traditions when I was little. My parents were both musicians and vocalists. The families would get together and there was a lot of music and I guess informal dancing, nothing like folklorico, folk dancing. We used to dance general social dances, like polka and waltzes. I remember more making the tamales and empanadas. That was the big thing. They were meat, sweet meat. They would use pork, and Mama would cook the pork and grind it and then she would add brown sugar and piñon nuts and raisins. A lot of people would bake their empanadas — she would fry them. To close them, she would roll her thumb, not use the fork.”

Herrera remembers not caring too much for those treats that reminds one of minced pie. He said he preferred his meat dishes salty and empanadas sweet, not both.

For more information about Folklorico or to sign up for the classes that follow the school year, call 575-624-2724.